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They left in place peer education networks, but did not go through with a planned drop-in center with HIV testing and support services. In addition to the attacks by and against groups described above, attacks against individual LGBT people also take place on the coast. At least two known gay men have been murdered on the coast in the last three years. Sixteen of the people we interviewed had experienced physical violence by civilians, either strangers or acquaintances, in attacks that they believed to be based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Police and other law enforcement officials have an obligation to provide assistance to LGBT people who are victims of crime, but do not always act accordingly. LGBT people are not unique in being denied adequate protection by the police. Human Rights Watch has documented inadequate police protection in the case of terrorist attacks, inter-ethnic violence, and other cases of serious violence. Police have sometimes come to the rescue of LGBT people escaping mob violence on the coast, as was the case during the Mtwapa incident, the KANCO training in Likoni, and the attack on a funeral in Watamu in , all described above.

Too often, however, police on the coast have responded to cases of violence against LGBT individuals by treating the victims with stigma and discrimination, refusing to take statements or to provide assistance.


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Most LGBT people we interviewed reported being afraid of the police, and were unwilling to even attempt to file complaints, as documented below. But no legal action will be taken against the perpetrators. National and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have for years have documented patterns of abusive behavior by Kenyan police against vulnerable communities, including refugees, ethnic Somalis, pastoralist communities, and residents of informal settlements. LGBT people, too—particularly those who are engaged in sex work—face abuses at the hands of the police.

Many gay men and transgender women on the coast—including 39 of the 58 we interviewed—are engaged in occasional or regular sex work. This is in part due to lack of other economic opportunities. Unemployment is exceptionally high in Mombasa for all young people. Like female sex workers, male and trans sex workers are subjected to sexual abuse and extortion at the hands of police officers and county government law enforcement officials, known in Kiswahili slang as makanjoo singular— kanjoo.

Among the 39 interviewees who sometimes engaged in sex work, 15 reported cases in which police officers or makanjoo threatened to arrest them if they refused sex.

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David, 25, told Human Rights Watch that he has been harassed by the police many times for sex work but was not working the night when the police picked him up. He said:. County government law enforcement officials—a separate entity from the police—also rape and abuse male sex workers. Guyo described being gang raped by county government law enforcement officers in November Rape by law enforcement officers is an extremely serious human rights violation. Although Human Rights Watch documented a number of such cases, they are not the primary focus of this report.

First, they merit further investigation in order to better assess which branches of law enforcement bear greatest responsibility. Even when not motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity, rape by law enforcement personnel, along with other forms of abuse that law enforcement officials perpetrate against LGBT people, has a devastating impact on trust between victims of homophobic violence and the law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be there to protect them.

Ishmael, an activist, captured the ambiguity of the police role in protecting or failing to protect LGBT people:. The victim survived the attack and received medical treatment.


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They did not take a report. Three days later, on June 24, another gay man in Mombasa was killed in a similar attack; he too was found with slash wounds to the neck and throat. Samir was gang-raped in , at age 20, while waiting for the bus at a.

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A man grabbed Samir, placed a cold object against his neck, and warned him not to shout. The man forced Samir across the road and into a secluded area, where six other men joined him. Then, Samir said:. After the rape, Samir informed his mother, who took him to Nyali Police Station. But the police on duty refused to take his statement. The case of Bettina, the transgender woman whose food kiosk in Mombasa was ransacked by a mob in October , has already been described above: when she went to report the crime, police refused even to provide her with a case number, instead pressing her on whether she was male or female.

Bettina also had a bad experience with police after she was beaten by four men in January when she was engaged in sex work.

She told Human Rights Watch:. While physical violence is the most serious threat facing LGBT people on the coast, other human rights violations, including evictions by homophobic landlords, contribute to insecurity. Douglas, an activist in Kilifi, told Human Rights Watch that police failed to respond to his complaints over being unlawfully evicted on the basis of his sexual orientation:. The laws that prohibit same-sex conduct in Kenya, in the few cases in which they have been applied, have been applied abusively: suspects are arrested solely on the suspicion that they might be gay, not because there is any concrete evidence that they have violated the law.

Fear of arrest for same-sex conduct acts as an impediment to anyone who might wish to report an anti-LGBT hate crime, because in doing so, they would have to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity to the police. After residents began attacking and harassing suspected LGBT people in Kwale County in February , Patrick, a gay man, was warned by a police officer not to seek out police assistance, because police might be on the lookout for gay men to arrest following reports of pornographic photos circulating.

Patrick was with his friend Tony when Tony was hit with a bottle on the street, as described in above:.

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These incidents, combined with the general perception among LGBT people that police are potential predators, not protectors, leads to fear of reporting crimes to the police, particularly among male sex workers. Ahmed, a male sex worker, said that in a group of eight or nine street boys in Mombasa dragged him to the beach, where they beat and raped him. Charles, the activist in Ukunda, described an attack in in in which Mombasa residents stripped a male sex worker naked in the street.

Crime victims in Kenya frequently express frustration with police failure to investigate complaints.

Reason as the Leading Motive

Although in some cases, such as those documented above, police are clearly discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, in other cases they may simply be lax and unmotivated. Ishmael, an activist, received anonymous death threats shortly after he went to Kwale to look into the attacks and police arrests reported above. We will give you five days to vacate or we will come for your head. Malik, who is HIV positive and works as a peer educator, told Human Rights Watch that after midnight on Christmas Eve, , he was going to a party in Mombasa, dressed as a woman.

They cut him, beat him up, stole his wallet and phone, and left him in the street, bleeding. Malik reported the incident to the police the following morning, but did not reveal his sexual orientation. While HIV prevalence in Kenya among the general population between the ages of 15 and 49 is estimated at 5.

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In three of the mob attacks described above, violence or threats of violence from residents and local religious leaders caused health providers serving MSM to temporarily or permanently close their doors or shut down workshops. Even when the targets of attacks are individuals and not institutions, HIV prevention programming and adherence to treatment for HIV-positive people are adversely affected.

When the two allegedly gay men were arrested and others attacked in Kwale in February , dozens fled the region or stayed in their houses without venturing out for weeks, leading to a notable drop-off in participation in HIV prevention activities at a Mombasa-based health center that served them. She explained:. Laws prohibiting same-sex conduct may also serve as a deterrent to health providers who might otherwise become engaged in HIV prevention efforts among key populations. It has collaborated with civil society organizations to train healthcare providers on understanding and being sensitive to LGBT health issues.

Samir, a gay man in Mombasa, described his experience at Coast General after he was raped by seven men:. As Samir suggests, apart from a few institutions, stigma against LGBT people persists in public hospitals and clinics. Human Rights Watch documented four cases in which gay men experienced stigma in the health sector. For instance, Tony said he had faced discrimination at the government hospital in Kwale while seeking assistance for an STI. Activists say the attack on KEMRI and its peer educators in Mtwapa in was a defining moment that spurred them into action.

PEMA Kenya and Tamba Pwani have both developed training programs aimed at sensitizing religious leaders, police, and health workers on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and PEMA Kenya has also trained members of the judiciary and media professionals. Most of the training programs have been implemented in Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

The recent anti-gay violence and arbitrary arrests in Kwale signal the need to expand such programming to that county. Over 12 sessions, PEMA Kenya facilitators, presenting themselves as human rights activists without initially emphasizing their focus on sexual orientation and gender identity, led discussions around public health, HIV prevention and condom use, and the need for compassion for marginalized groups. Toward the end of the training, they turned explicitly to sexual orientation and gender identity, bringing in openly LGBT people to talk about their own experiences.

Eleven religious leaders participated, representing Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, Pentecostals, Anglicans, and Muslims. Human Rights Watch interviewed several religious leaders who attended the trainings. I changed from the training we got from PEMA. We have to welcome them and talk to them politely. Education and understanding are important. But it has been difficult, he acknowledged. The pastor was kicked out of his church for participating in the trainings.

He was later reinstated. Not all participants changed their attitudes. God will punish them. In , Tamba Pwani held dialogues with religious leaders in Kilifi County. The police have also warned them not to take the law into their own hands. The facilitators led discussions around the Mtwapa attacks, as well as incidents in which police had not responded adequately to attacks on gay men.

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According to Michael Kioko, police remained unconvinced:. Civil society organizations on the coast are also engaged in sensitizing health workers on LGBT issues. In Kilifi, Tamba Pwani has also done informal sensitization of health workers. Wanyama, a volunteer at Tamba Pwani, explained:.

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